Page 3685

3685 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

be sure, had been avoided, and two-thirds

of that country was in Teutonic hands, but

the prospects for Teutonic arms did not

appear bright. The people of the Central

Powers were murmuring over the length

of the war, and their masters realized

that it was necessary to hold up before

them another will-o'-the-wisp. On December 12, the Central Powers created an

international sensation by announcing a

willingness to enter into peace negotiations, but the language used was vainglorious, and the statement spoke of their

"unconquerable strength" and of their

"gigantic advantages over their adversaries" despite superiority in numbers and

war material. Recent events, the note

declared, had demonstrated that a further

continuance of the war would "not result

in breaking the resistance of our forces,

but the whole situation with regard to

troops justifies our expectation as to further

successes. If, in spite of this offer of

peace and reconciliation, the struggle

should go on, the four allied powers are

resolved to continue to a victorious end,

but they disclaim responsibility for this

before humanity and history." No intimation was given in the note regarding

the terms which would be acceptable,

but it was reported that Germany would

expect the return of her colonies, the

recognition of Poland and Lithuania as

independent states, the annexation of a

large part of Servia to Austria-Hungary,

and the settlement of the Balkan situation

by a general European conference.

Various theories were propounded to

account for the offer. Many observers

believed that the Teutons realized that

the military situation was more favorable

than it was likely ever to be again, and

that they wished to negotiate peace while

they were, so to speak, "ahead of the

game." Others suggested that the War

Lords were anxious to convince their

people of their willingness to "make

peace" and wished to throw the responsibility for a continuance of the struggle

upon their enemies. Some supposed that

the Central Powers also hoped to create

dissatisfaction among their enemies and

perhaps to detach one or two more of them

from the combination. Yet others, noting